People’s first response when they heard that I was moving to Canada was always “But it’s so cold!”

While Canada is not the Arctic wasteland most people imagine it to be, it does get cold in the winter. If you’re coming from a place that doesn’t have real winters, here’s what you’re going to need.

A proper winter coat

In New York I suffered through winters with a wool coat. As soon as we moved to Toronto, we got proper winter coats. It’s magical. Instead of freezing all winter, it’s like I’m wrapped in a duvet every time I’m outside.

You may also want a balaclava if you’re going to be walking a lot in bad weather.

A toque

The Drake has the best selection of hats, in my opinion.
knit columbia beanie north face toque


Make sure you get touchscreen gloves or you’ll still freeze. I’m a big fan of the ones at Muji and Uniqlo. You’re going to be wearing them every day, so you’ll want a couple pairs.


Canadians tend to keep their homes toasty warm, so make sure you’re not going to roast once you’re inside. Stay comfortable by layering. Remember, cotton sweaters are cooler than wool or cashmere.
 stay warm with layers

Real boots

I got a pair of Timberlands, thinking they’d work as boots. Ha! They have less traction than my sneakers. Avoid wasting your money on things that look like boots and get a pair of real boots.

Overall, Toronto is a pretty casual city. Flannel is appropriate for most occasions. Even in formal offices, I’ve seen a lot of suits with winter boots.

This is what 80% of women in Toronto are wearing right now:

While a certain percentage of Canadians seem to hibernate as soon as the temperature dips, we still walked around on plenty of very cold days. As long as you’re dressed for the weather, you’ll be fine.

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